The Yazidis are a monotheistic ethnic community with ancient roots and their own distinct religion and culture. They hail mostly from Iraq; however, they no longer have a homeland. They are a severely persecuted minority, targeted for annihilation by ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). Many are languishing in refugee camps where they are subjected not only to prejudice but to violence.
By the summer of 2015, Operation Ezra had raised that $35,000 and more, and grown into a Jewish community-wide initiative embracing dozens of volunteers and donors, as well as the support of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg, Jewish Child and Family Service and Congregation Shaarey Zedek.
In the ensuing months, Operation Ezra extended its reach even further, evolving into a coalition of 24 Winnipeg-based multi-faith organizations and small Yazidi community, numbering approximately 250 has been established in Winnipeg.
Not only do Jewish people share the experience of historical prejudice and genocidal persecution with the Yazidis, but we also have a deep understanding of the difficulties that are endemic to settlement in a new country. Our communities share a keen desire to be a part of Canada in every sense as contributing members of a strong and democratic society. The plight of the Yazidis was brought to the attention of the Jewish and general communities of Winnipeg during a program organized by Winnipeg Friends of Israel. This important initiative is one that the larger Jewish and general communities have now embraced under the name “Operation Ezra” – “Operation ‘Help’. Jewish Child and Family Service and the Jewish Federation are pleased to share their experience and expertise with resettlement.